Qantas Group says in a statement: “With the federal government now recommending against all overseas travel from Australia, regularly scheduled international flights will continue until late March to assist with repatriation, and will then be suspended until at least the end of May 2020.
“As the national carrier, Qantas is in ongoing discussions with the Federal Government about continuation of some strategic links.”
Starting 15 March, all arrivals to Australia must self-isolate for 14 days, including citizens. The Department of Foreign Affairs said on 18 March: “As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult… If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.”
Qantas Group disclosed on 17 March that it was grounding 150 aircraft, including most of its widebody fleet, and will cut its international capacity by about 90% and domestic network by 60%.
It adds: “Discussions are progressing with airports and government about parking for these aircraft.”
The group says it will maintain essential domestic, regional, and freight connections “as much as possible”.
On the other hand, its freighters will continue to be “fully utilised”, and some domestic passenger aircraft will also be deployed on pure cargo flights “to replace lost capacity from regular scheduled services”.
Qantas Group adds it will maintain connectivity to all Australian domestic and regional destinations and expects a 60% reduction in capacity, unchanged from its previous statement. This is mostly due to lowered flight frequency, though some routes have been suspended and new route launches postponed.
At the corporate level, Qantas Group is deferring a previously announced A$201 million ($112 million) dividend payout from 9 April to 1 September, and will cancel a share repurchase programme.
Senior executives and board members have committed to take a 100% pay reduction until at least the end of financial year ending 30 June 2020. Earlier in the month, chief executive Alan Joyce and board chairman Richard Goyder committed to taking no salary or fees, while the group executive management team and board members were to take a 30% reduction.
Qantas and Jetstar will also temporarily stand down two-thirds of their 30,000 employees until at least the end of May, “rather than lose these highly skilled employees who we’ll need when this crisis passes”, Joyce says.
Employees are encouraged to take leave and advance leave is available, but the company says, “Unfortunately, periods of leave without pay for some employees are inevitable.”
Joyce says in the latest statement: “We’re in a strong financial position right now, but our wages bill is more than A$4 billion a year. With the huge drop in revenue we’re facing, we have to make difficult decisions to guarantee the future of the national carrier.”
He adds: “This is a very hard set of circumstances for our people, as it is for lots of parts of the community right now.”
“No airline in the world is immune to this, with the world’s leading carriers making deep cuts to flying schedules and jobs. Our strong balance sheet means we’ve entered this crisis in better shape than most and we’re taking action to make sure we can ride this out.”